Boarding in Dubai
There’s a growing demand for boarding in Dubai. Nav Rai, from Swiss International Scientific School Dubai, explores this subject for Winter’s…
Like many things in Dubai, the education sector is evolving rapidly to meet the growing and ever-changing demands of locals and expats. Dubai now has the highest number of international schools of any city in the world, catering for every budget and curriculum. Up until recently, boarding schools in the Middle East had been considered a niche offering, but there is a growing demand from parents who are searching for a boarding school closer to home.
Traditionally, parents living in the region sent their children to boarding schools in countries with a long tradition of boarding, for example, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. The opportunity for a student to board in these countries can be very attractive, however many parents based in the UAE are now choosing to send their child to a boarding school within closer reach, rather than one which is thousands of miles away.
Moving away from home for the first time is never easy, and the option to board somewhere closer can help to make for a smoother transition from home life to independence. It can be a comfort to a young child to know that the family home is only a short distance away. Attending a local boarding school naturally allows for more visits home during the academic year (e.g. during public holidays), whereas this may not be practical if the child is studying in the UK or Switzerland.
"...the option to board somewhere closer can help to make for a smoother transition from home life to independence."
Boarding is an integral part of many of the best Swiss schools, and now this long-standing tradition is being brought to Dubai, which further diversifies the educational offer within the city and the wider region. The Swiss International Scientific School (SISD) will be the latest school to offer boarding, adding to a growing list which includes Repton School (Dubai), Kings Academy (Jordan), Qatar Leadership Academy and the Bahrain School.
Dubai may not offer snow-capped mountains and rolling green countryside, synonymous with Switzerland and the UK, but it does offer fantastic weather, great beaches, numerous outdoor activities, cultural diversity, and safety, which is often paramount for any parent looking to place their child in a boarding environment. Dubai has also become recognized as a global hub for air travel, which makes it easily accessible from most major cities.
The world of boarding has also changed considerably. The old days of large, cold dormitories have been replaced with contemporary, comfortable living spaces, en-suite facilities and excellent sports and art facilities. Modern boarding schools are run by highly qualified and experienced staff who are focused on encouraging the students to challenge themselves and fulfil their potential. Many children now embrace the idea of studying away from home, which can be attributed to the welcoming environment that many boarding schools have. The portrayal of boarding in the media has also seen a positive shift, perhaps because of Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts!
The demand for boarding schools from parents in the UAE is also shown by the number of boarding school fairs that are now held annually in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (the Sue Anderson Show, the Independent School Show, the Linden Fair, and so on). Well-known boarding schools from around the world regularly attend these shows in the hope of attracting students to join their school.
The motivation to send a child to board can vary from family to family. Dubai is a city that never sleeps, and many parents lead fast-paced lives, often juggling work commitments, long school runs, after-school activities, sports fixtures and ensuring that homework has been completed. The practical benefits of boarding can help to create a good balance between school and home life, but there are also numerous long-term benefits, which are equally important.
"The benefits of boarding ensure that students are well-equipped to manage the transition from school to university..."
Some of the key practical and long-term benefits of boarding are summarised below…
- No long commutes to school, which means more time can be spent focusing on academic studies, or pursuing interests and activities;
- Boarders have access to support from academic tutors in the evenings to help with their studies;
- Access to the facilities on campus after school hours (e.g. gym, sports hall, pool).
Long term benefits:
- Builds confidence, leadership skills and independence;
- Creates a tight-knit global network which will become invaluable in later life;
- Encourages personal responsibility and helps to develop organisational skills;
- Develops emotional intelligence and the ability to integrate successfully in a group.
The benefits of boarding ensure that students are well-equipped to manage the transition from school to university, and they are often well-placed to deal with the challenges of life beyond the comfort of the family home.
Boarding in the 21st Century is about choice and meeting the family’s personal needs. Parents and students in Dubai and the wider region can now choose from a growing number of local boarding schools as well as the traditional option of attending a school further afield.